Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Music In The Clouds

Many people do it. Download songs to computer.
If you want to listen to 'em on the road, you copy to your iPod or iPhone.
Amazon, with its online music store in competition with Apple, has two problems with that. (1) your library is scattered between home, work and mobile until you sync it together and, if your library is big, you can fit only some of it onto your phone. (2) Amazon naturally wants more people to buy music from it rather than iTunes. So it's launched software to resolve this...
Instead of sitting on your computer, your music collection sits online (or “in the cloud”). That way, you can listen to it from any computer anywhere, by logging into a special web page - the Amazon Cloud Player.
You can also listen to your entire music collection on an Android phone. No copying or syncing of music is ever required: your songs are always available everywhere, and they use no storage on the phone itself. Lotsa other functions too. All of this is absolutely free! Well, sort of.
Song files are pretty big. One huge advantage of the "cloud" is - moving those hefty files to the internet frees up computer/phone space. Amazon offers 5Gb of space free - enough for 1,200 MP3s (and buy more storage at US$1 a Gb per year).
You can store more than music files too: there's also the Cloud Drive, an online hard drive like the Apple iDisk or Microsoft SkyDrive. You can store anything here: photos, documents - anything you want to back up or retrieve later from any other computer. Even if you never use any of Amazon’s music features, this 5Gb online drive is free to anyone who wants it. (You can view the photos and play the music you’ve stored but otherwise, it’s just a place for parking files, not opening them.)
And if you buy an album from Amazon’s music store, your Cloud Drive gets bumped up to 20Gb for the year at no charge. Any songs you buy from Amazon don’t count against your storage limit (if you start with 5Gb free and buy 20 songs from Amazon, you still have 5Gb free).
Of course there're always a few thorns eg: Cloud Player is available only in USA. It only works on Android phones...but that'll be because Amazon’s system competes directly with Apple’s. It’s not clear how private your files are, or if they’re even yours. Amazon does not guarantee your files' security. You’ll have no music anywhere there’s no cell service or internet hot spot, unless you download to laptop or phone in advance, but that defeats the whole purpose. And yes, there are similar products available...
However, as another product in this highly competitive field, the Cloud Drive/Cloud Player sounds worthy of further consideration...if it's ever available to the rest of us: there is life outside the States!

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